The Secret of How the Red Sox's are Socking the Other Teams!
You are never in a bad place when you are 8 games above your biggest rival. The Boston Red Sox are in that exact position, 8 games above the New York Yankees. With only 39 losses, they must be doing something right. Well, their players are topping the charts, with Mookie Betts #1 in AL batting average, J.D. Martinez #1 in AL home runs and Chris Sale #1 in strikeouts. I am going to investigate some of the areas where they are succeeding, and where other teams can avoid in the batter’s box, as well as on the mound.
First, I wanted to talk about the leader in AL batting average, Mookie Betts. 7% of the pitches he sees are hits, which results in a .340 batting average. Usually, a batter has an area of the zone where they prefer, Betts seems to like all areas of the plate, hence his success. As a right-handed batter, he has a slight preference on the outside of the plate, but only slight. With that being said, he has gotten a hit at almost every zone on the stick zone, and even a few outside of the zone.
Favoring the outside of the plate is interesting when you look at Betts’s spray chart of hits. Usually, a batter finds power in pulling an inside pitch. Betts seems to find his power in pulling more outside pitches, which shows tremendous power. A lot of his hits are to the left side of the field, which is unusual since he hits a lot of pitches that are on the right side of the plate. He does have a good amount of speed since he has a good amount of infield singles.
Next, we have J.D. Martinez, who is the leader in AL home runs with 38. 1.8% of the pitches he has seen this season has been a homerun. Below, we have a pitch type breakdown by count. I thought it would be interesting to see what types of pitches he is teeing off on in each count. The most hit pitch is the 4-seam fastball, which makes sense since that is the most frequently used pitch. He does like the slider on an 2-0 count, so he has an eye for those. He does seem to have success on the sinker, especially early in the count. He lets the pitchers work on 3-0 and 3-1 counts, which is a good batting approach in my opinion. As a pitcher, it would be interesting to look at this graph and compare it to the pitches you throw to try to eliminate some of his success.
Finally, the pitcher who is #3 in strikeouts with 219, Chris Sale. In order to be a successful pitcher, you need to have good location of pitches, good movement and a command of pitches; Sale has all three. I wanted to look at the location of the ball when he strikes out a batter, as well as the pitches he throws. Sale tends to paint the corners, but either high outside or low inside (to a right-handed batter). Rarely will he hit the high inside corner.
With the locations being shown, I wanted to see which pitches are his deadliest. It looks like the fastball is defiantly the killer, followed closely by the slider. He must have strong command on his pitches to get batters on these more “basic” pitches. Many pitchers have some more complicated pitches thrown for strikeouts such as sinkers and knuckle balls, but with good command and movement, a slider and fastball bring him great success. As a batter, you should know this and look for that strong movement and be ready for the fastball and slider.
The Boston Red Sox are having a tremendous season. With these three strong players, and many more on the roster, I see them going very far. They just need to keep up the good work and working on their few flaws. As for other teams, they need to see these flaws and try to take advantage of them. Hopefully, they succeed, but not at the hand of the Indians.
ESPN. MLB Statistics - 2018. n.d. http://www.espn.com/mlb/statistics
MLB Advanced Media, LP. Statcast Search. n.d. https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/statcast_search.